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Final Piece Of Connecticut Marijuana Legalization Legislative Package Advances

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Connecticut lawmakers voted on Wednesday to send the third and final piece of a marijuana legalization package out of committee and toward floor consideration.

Over the past several weeks, legislative panels have been individually handling aspects of a comprehensive cannabis regulation plan that relate to their respective jurisdictions.

One bill to legalize marijuana for adult use, which would also expunge the records of those with prior marijuana possession convictions, was approved by the legislature’s Judiciary Committee last month. Another proposal advanced through the General Law Committee in March.

And now, the Committee on Finance, Revenue and Bonding has signed off on a bill to direct how tax revenue from marijuana sales would be allocated in the state.

SB 1138 would impose a 6.35 percent tax on retail marijuana sales, with an additional three percent local tax that could be imposed in jurisdictions that allow cannabis businesses to operate. Marijuana transfers from growers would also be taxed at $35 per ounce.

Much of the revenue would go toward community reinvestments in disadvantaged areas to fund services such as free or low-cost early childhood education, vocational programs, libraries, home buyer education and community centers.

The finance panel held a hearing on the proposal earlier this week, and voted on Wednesday to approve it. An amendment was added to steer some funds to mental health and substance abuse programs.

House and Senate leaders intend to merge the provisions of the three separate marijuana bills into a single legislative proposal that, if approved, would be sent to Gov. Ned Lamont (D).

Lamont has called legalization one of his “priorities,”  and he discussed the issue during a budget speech earlier this year.

“We applaud the committee for advancing this legislation, which is both forward-thinking and mindful of the past,” Kebra Smith-Bolden, co-director of the Connecticut Coalition to Regulate Marijuana, said in a press release responding to the latest vote. “It very thoughtfully proposes the state direct the revenue from legal cannabis sales to the communities that have long borne the brunt of marijuana prohibition. This boost in much-needed resources to underserved communities promises a safer and healthier future for all Connecticut residents.”

Legalizing Marijuana Is One Of New Connecticut Governor’s ‘Priorities’

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Tom Angell is the editor of Marijuana Moment. A 20-year veteran in the cannabis law reform movement, he covers the policy and politics of marijuana. Separately, he founded the nonprofit Marijuana Majority. Previously he reported for Marijuana.com and MassRoots, and handled media relations and campaigns for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

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